Tax credits revolt, 'bacon butty backlash' and 'Royal Spyness' Kate - newspaper headlines

By Andy McFarlane
BBC News


Most front pages portray the Lords revolt over tax credit cuts as a humiliation for the government, a provocation to reform the upper house, or both.

The Daily Telegraph shares David Cameron's anger at what it sees as democracy being undermined by unelected peers. It argues that while Britain's constitution is unwritten: "The rules are clear and well-known. One such rule prevents the House of Lords deciding on issues of public spending." It urges the PM to quickly and temporarily appoint a wave of new Conservative peers to enable the will of the Commons to be imposed.

Noting that MPs have three times approved the changes to tax credits, the Times says the Lords "defied democracy" in the way it voted.

Peter Oborne, writing in the Daily Mail, suggests peers could "pay a heavy price" for damaging Chancellor George Osborne. "In revenge, Mr Osborne will want to put them out of business - and a good thing, too," writes the commentator, complaining that the Lords is "an increasingly corrupt and worthless institution".

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However, Independent sketchwriter Donald MacIntyre argues it's "highly debatable" that peers had no right to vote down the proposal. "The thinner the ice ministers were crossing the more they clung to the improbable argument that by daring to vote down the proposal - contained in a mean little statutory instrument usually reserved for trivial changes - the Lords would unleash a constitutional crisis."

Polly Toynbee argues in the Guardian that the "constitutional sideshow highlights the full monstrosity of the government's benefits cuts", with peers demanding the chancellor reveal the full expected impact of the policy. The Daily Mirror says: "The chancellor has now been humbled and rightly so. Instead of trying to overturn the Lords votes, he should concede defeat and rethink the whole punitive policy."

In his Times sketch, Patrick Kidd argues: "Our upper chamber may seem batty to outsiders but somehow it works."

Eye-catching headlines

  • "Apostrophe catastrophe! Girl finds 15 howlers in 15 minutes" - a Bradford schoolgirl was shocked by the standard of grammar she found during a walk around her local market, reports the Daily Mail
  • "Spider's bite felt just like a thunderbolt"- the Daily Star hears from a plumber whose neck turned black after he was bitten by a false widow
  • "An app that will get you to the church on time for evensong" - a former Cambridge scholar is launching an app to alert people to the "world class" music played daily in churches, reports the Independent
  • "Chuka loses battle but wins the girl" - ex-shadow business secretary - and one-time Labour leadership hopeful - Chuka Umunna announces in the Times that he's to wed partner Alice Sullivan

Meaty issue

A World Health Organisation (WHO) declaration that processed meat causes cancer whips the tabloids into a frenzy. The Daily Star discovers a "bacon butty backlash" after sending reporter Matthew Young onto the mean streets armed with rasher-stuffed sandwiches. "Save our bacon," is the message he gets from those he meets.

"Banger out of order," says the Sun's front-page headline. The paper suggests readers could be making a "rasher decision" if they tuck into a fry-up, given "bacon and sausages will now be officially ranked alongside plutonium, cigarettes, asbestos and sunbeds" as causes of cancer.

Reviewing the revised WHO guidelines of 50g of processed meat a day, the Daily Mail spells out that amounts to two rashers of bacon, a small sausage, half a small burger, five slices of salami or two slices of ham.

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The Daily Express affords Prof Tim Key, of Cancer Research UK, space to explain that it "doesn't mean you need to stop eating any red and processed meat" but that it might be wise to consider cutting down. And the paper also carries news of a "super-tomato" with "cancer-busting properties", although it doesn't say whether it might counter any negative effects of the bacon, if served on the same sandwich.

Eating less red meat might not only improve our health but that of the environment, suggests the Independent, arguing in an editorial that reducing the world's "meat obsession" could help fight climate change. "Emissions from the livestock sector account for a higher portion of the global total (around 15%) than direct transport emissions," it says.

Still, the Independent points out that the world's oldest woman, 116-year-old American Susannah Mushatt Jones, credits her daily breakfast bacon intake - alongside love and sleep - as the secret to her longevity.

There is scepticism from Sarah Boseley, who complains in the Guardian that the researchers can't say why processed meat might be dangerous. "It's an unsatisfactory message because we all have to eat, and - as the meat industry and scientists it funds are loudly saying - there are nutritional benefits to eating meat as well as risks," she says, adding that ham sandwiches are far less risky than a 20-a-day cigarette habit.

If the WHO recommendation doesn't put you off hot dogs, then a Daily Mirror report suggesting one in every 50 frankfurters contains human DNA just might. The traces could have found their way into the food "in the form of saliva or other bodily fluids during the mashing and processing on the production line", explains the paper.

'Her Royal Spyness'

The usual excitement that accompanies any new Bond film premiere is surpassed thanks to the presence of the Duchess of Cambridge on the red carpet. The Daily Mirror says she was "On Her Majesty's Very Public Service" alongside "Their Royal Spynesses" Princes William and Harry, and declares her a "Bond Bombshell" in a silk chiffon gown.

The paper deploys Amber Graafland to offer a fashion verdict. She says the Jenny Packham frock gave the duchess an elegant look that "wowed the crowd". "Dressing for a star-studded film premiere is high-pressure even if you're a duchess. But going head-to-head with three Bond girls on the red carpet at the world premiere of Spectre? That is something else," she says.

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The Mail also praises the "sheer daring" of the duchess, who knew she would be measured against "the ultimate symbols of sex and glamour", and offers a close-up of her £550 Jimmy Choos. Karen Kay writes: "Kate's answer was to go for old-school elegance... For while the stars will be Bond girls for only one night, she knows that she will still be a duchess tomorrow - and has chosen not to compete."

Still, the Daily Express makes great play of the duchess "daring to bare", saying: "The sheer chiffon outfit, split at the back to reveal some flesh, appeared to show the future queen Kate was not wearing a bra."

The Daily Star, meanwhile, shows more interest in the "celebrity Bonding" on the red carpet, suggesting Made in Chelsea's Ashley James was "dressed to kill" - as opposed to licensed for the same - and noting that Top Gear host Chris Evans turned up with "his boots splattered with paint".

"Strictly judge Darcey Bussell could have passed for a Bond Girl with a leather jacket over her plunging dress, while The Voice coach looked like he had dressed as the super-spy himself in a stylish tuxedo," it adds.

What the commentators say

media captionFormer Sunday Express editor Eve Pollard and broadcaster David Davies join the BBC News Channel to review Tuesday's papers.

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